But herein lies a couple of problems. Firstly, the cost of trenching out and running underground armoured electricity cabling from the school building, out to the forest site, can be cost-prohibitive because of the distances involved. Secondly, even if this is possible, there is an ongoing running cost the school must have to factor into their budgets for electricity and maintenance.
Thankfully, we at the Hideout House Company have the ideal solution to overcome these obstacles, a solution that can even save the school some money: Take the outdoor classrooms and outdoor shelters “off-grid”.
We supply schools with a special renewable energy equipment package. This consists of a solar panel, a wind turbine, and a control board with a data monitoring facility for the children to use. The energy created from the sun and wind is stored in a panel-mounted battery and, by way of an inverter, is then turned into usable electricity. This system can therefore light up the building and, by way of two electrical sockets, can provide for some basic electricity as well.
What’s more, if the school wanted to augment this renewable energy principle, we can also supply some special electricity-producing bikes with dynamos, which the children have to pedal. Pedal power is a great way for pupils to appreciate energy - if they stop pedalling, so does the electricity supply! These bikes have been used in the past to power up lights, music and film systems, mobiles, and tablets. And it is a good way of getting the children physically active by burning off some excess energy which in turn can switch on the lights!
With regards to heating, the above systems are not really capable of powering up radiators or heaters, because these consume too much energy. The simplest way of doing this is to have a wood-burning stove installed in the building, which also complements the whole forest schools ethos of collecting wood and lighting fires in a controlled environment.
To save even further on costs, it is quite simple to have an insulation package installed into the outdoor classroom building, keeping out the heat in the summer and keeping in the heat in the colder months.
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